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Twin Rivers kids come up short

15U Babe Ruth team just misses out on district finals

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

Twin Rivers pitcher Dahlton Fairbank shows the ump the ball after tagging out Farmington’s Jake Hatch during Sunday action in Littleton. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 09, 2012
LITTLETON — The Twin Rivers 15U Babe Ruth All-Stars had a solid performance at the District Five tournament over the weekend in Littleton, but came up just short of the district finals on Sunday afternoon.

Twin Rivers got the tourney started in fine fashion, as Dahlton Fairbank struck out 16 batters in six innings of work in a 3-0 win over MWV on Friday night.

The team returned to action on Saturday against Kingswood and emerged from a back and forth battle with a 2-1 win in nine innings in a game that saw a little of everything.

Both teams loaded the bases in the first inning, but neither team scored. Twin Rivers loaded the bases again in the top of the second and this time took advantage, plating a run. Brendon Frechette started the rally with a one-out base hit and Ryan French, Jack DeCormier and Fairbank all drew walks to plate the game's first run.

Fairbank then gunned down a runner stealing second in the bottom of the inning and Thomas Rhatigan threw out a runner taking a wide turn at second after a hit to right field.

Twin Rivers wasted another chance in the top of the third, but hurler Caleb Merrill kept Kingswood off the board with a clean inning in the bottom of the frame. Twin Rivers put two runners on again in the fourth, but again could not convert. Merrill got a little help from shortstop DeCormier in the bottom of the fourth, as he snared a line drive for the second out of the inning.

Twin Rivers again put two runners on base in the top of the fifth, but didn't score, but Merrill returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, as he allowed two Kingswood base runners, but picked off a runner to end the inning.

Kingswood rallied for the tying run in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of a couple of errors to push a run across. After a walk put the go-ahead run in scoring position, Fairbank came on and struck out the next two hitters to get out of the inning.

The seventh featured a little drama. Ryan Smith led off with a base hit and Devin Basha ran for him at first. Greg Hunt then beat out a bunt hit, but he was hurt running through first. A trip to the hospital revealed torn ligaments and a broken growth plate in his ankle. He returned to the field later on crutches. Kingswood selected Rhatigan to run (Twin Rivers was out of subs), putting two runners on with nobody out, but Kingswood got the next three batters out to keep the game going.

DeCormier took over on the hill in the seventh and it appeared Kingswood had the win on a sacrifice fly to center, but Twin Rivers appealed and it was ruled the runner left early, so the inning ended with the game still tied.

After a relatively quiet eighth inning, Twin Rivers took the lead in the top of the ninth. Merrill led off with a double and one out later, a pickoff error put him at second and Rhatigan reached on an error to plate Merrill. Tim Harmon followed with a double to seemingly plate Rhatigan, but he missed third and Kingswood appealed, ending the inning.

Kingswood walked to open the bottom of the ninth and Harmon took over on the hill. He got two grounders, including a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

That sent Twin Rivers on to play North Country later on Saturday and the host's big bats delivered a 5-0 win.

Fairbank started for Twin Rivers and struck out the side in the bottom of the first, but gave up a run on two hits and a wild pitch.

Tucker Normand beat out an infield hit in the top of the third, but he was stranded and North Country added three runs in the bottom of the inning on a walk, a hit, a wild pitch and an error to take a 4-0 lead.

North Country threatened again in the fourth, but catcher Devin Basha cut down a runner at the plate on a wild pitch for the final out of the inning.

Twin Rivers again stranded a pair of runners in the fifth and North Country added a run in the bottom of the inning on a walk, error and base hit. Basha had a hit in the top of the seventh, but he was stranded and North Country had the 5-0 win.

With the loss, Twin Rivers had to face off with Farmington on Sunday morning for a chance to go to the finals.

Fairbank got the start on the hill for Twin Rivers and Farmington got to him for two runs in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of a walk, a bunt hit and a couple of errors.

Twin Rivers got one back in the bottom of the inning. Griffin Fleming drew a one-out walk and after walks to Merrill and DeCormier, Fairbank beat out an infield hit to cut the lead to 2-1.

Twin Rivers again couldn't deliver in the bottom of the second, as three walks loaded the bases, but a pop fly to second ended the threat. Basha gunned down a runner stealing in the top of the third and Twin Rivers used it for momentum in the bottom of the inning. Fairbank walked with one out and Basha beat out a base hit. Fairbank scored on a groundout by Frechette, tying the score at two.

Merrill came on to pitch in the fourth and struck out the side, but Farmington came alive in the fifth inning, pushing across five runs for a 7-2 lead. Normand did help out by throwing out a runner at second after catching a fly ball in center.

Twin Rivers came back with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Merrill and DeCormier had singles to open the inning and Fairbank doubled home one run. Basha followed with a base hit to plate two more runs and a sacrifice fly by Rhatigan cut the lead to 7-6.

Harmon came on to pitch in the sixth and got some defensive help, as French fired to Fairbank on a double to left and the third baseman fired to Basha at the plate to cut down the runner trying to score.

Harmon picked off a Farmington runner in the top of the seventh and in the bottom of the inning, Twin Rivers scored to force extra innings. Basha led off with a base hit and stole second. He took third on a groundout by Harmon and scored when Normand reached on an error.

However, Farmington took advantage of a couple of walks and an error to plate two runs in the top of the eighth and Twin Rivers didn't have a rally left, falling 9-7, ending their tourney run.

The Twin Rivers roster included Tucker Normand, Jack DeCormier, Dahlton Fairbank, Caleb Merrill, Steven Tassey, Greg Hunt, Thomas Rhatigan, Brendon Frechette, Ryan French, Griffin Fleming, Tim Harmon, Ryan Smith, Tyler Adams and Devin Basha. The team is coached by Matt Harmon, Don Merrill and Kevin Lorden.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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